Those back-to-back losses to Arizona sure seem like a distant memory now. This team has guts; they know how to stop the bleeding and bounce back before much damage can be done. Teams are going to lose ball games, but good teams are the ones that can forget about those losses and come back swinging the next day. The Chicago Cubs are a good team. On a another note, what has gotten in to Lilly? Ted is now 5-0 in July and has 11 wins in total, making the Cubs' 1-2 punch the winningest 1-2 in the NL. These Cubs have a pretty darn good 1-2 punch and hopefully they can remain the only ball club with all 5 starters sporting a sub-4 ERA tomorrow. You want to know one of the biggest reasons why I think the Cubs can overtake the division? Check out these road records:
MIL - 20-28
CHC - 26-22
While the Cubs are going just fine on the road right now, the Brewers continue to have road woes. Sure they have a great Home record, but that's more likely to fall than their road record improving. They got the series win, let's pray they can pull off the sweep now! Go Cubs and keep the faith!
* 7/24/07 - 7:10 PM CDT: Chicago Cubs (53-46, 2nd NLC); (26-22 Road W-L) @ St.Louis Cardinals (45-52, 3rd NLC); (21-24 Home W-L)
Forecast : 89°F
Feels like: 92°F
Sunset: 8:17 PM
Probability of Precip:10 %
Outlook: Mostly sunny with winds coming from the SSW at 12 MPH (Wind blowing in from Right center).
Overall: It looks to be another beautiful breezy night for baseball.
Pitching Match up: Jason Marquis *RHP* (7-5, 3.92 ERA;1.27 WHIP) vs. Braden Looper *RHP* (7-8, 5.09 ERA;1.43 WHIP)
-Braden Looper: Looper, another reliever-turned-starter, hasn't fared as well as fellow reliever-turned-starter Wainwright. Looper's allows base runners at nearly the same rate Wainwright does, a 1.43 per inning clip. Looper is a pitch-to-contact type of pitcher with a low 4.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Despite being a contact pitcher, Looper's HR prevention is pretty good with an 8.7% HR per fly rate complimented by a 45.4% Ground ball %. So why is Looper doing so poorly this year? Well, Looper leads the majors with a 23% line drive percentage. That means that nearly 1 out every 4 batted balls against Looper is a line drive. This'll pile up to many basehits and doubles, which Looper shows VIA the 115 hits to 104.1 Innings pitched. Looper also has a poor left on base % at 64.6%. Looper is much better at home this year, sporting a 3-3 record and 3.83 ERA. In his career 33 appearances against the Cubs (1 start), Looper is 2-2 with a 2.62 ERA. That one start did take place at Wrigley this year with Looper going 7 strong innings while allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 walks to 5 strikeouts. In his last start at Atlanta, Looper was absolutely shelled; He managed just 2.2 innings while surrendering 7 earned runs on 10 hits and 1 walk to 3 strikeouts.
-Jason Marquis: Jason Marquis returns to St.Louis to face his old ball club yet again. Things weren't so great for Jason last year in St.Louis, but he's returned this year in the rival's uniform as an improved pitcher. Marquis has struggled from inconsistency as of late, but had a promising outing his last time out against Arizona. Jason is an average groundball to fly ball pitcher but leans more towards a ground ball pitcher with a 47.9% groundball percentage. His homerun prevention hasn't been great at 10.9% HRs per fly and he's allowed 14 HRs on the year. Marquis has struggled with control off and on this year with a 3.5 BB/9 while posting a 5.2 K/9. He's 2-3 on the road this year with a 4.20 ERA. He's been lights out against his old ball club in his career with a 3-0 record and 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings. He's faced St.Louis twice this year, going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 2 starts. In his last start at Busch against the Cards, Marquis went 6.2 innings while allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks to 0 strikeouts. In his last start at home against Arizona, Marquis went a strong 7.2 innings giving up 2 earned runs on just 4 hits and a walk to 3 strikeouts.
-CUBS- Has the Cubs' Offense awakened? The 'O got it done in game 2 without the use of a homer: Smacking 14 hits, 5 of them doubles and 1 a triple. With players seemingly emerging out of nowhere to contribute to the club (Jones getting hot, Floyd ripping the ball all over tonight) and Derrek Lee returning to the lineup, the Cubs can put up some big numbers on the scoreboard in a hurry.
-I- Who's hot?: Jacque Jones is 11 for his last 25 (.449) with 7 RBIs. Jones continues to rip singles every which way and knock in base runners with 2 outs.
-II- The Rob Bowen award: Kendall is 1 for his last 15 (.067), but got a free ride on the pine in game 2 with Koyie Hill catching that game.
-III- Kendall time?: Jason Kendall is 5 for 10 (.500/.545/.600) lifetime against Looper with a double, walk, and 3 RBIs. Jacque Jones is 4 for 7 (.571/.571/.571). Aramis Ramirez is 4 for 13 (.308/.357/.308)
-IV- Fumbling Floyd: Floyd is 0 for 5 (.000) lifetime against Looper with a walk. Hey, Floyd was in this section in the last preview too - look how that one turned out.
-CARDINALS- The Cardinals' offense just isn't getting the job done so far in this series. What embodies this most of all? Albert Pujols going 0 for 9 so far this series.
-I- Juuuaaan Gone!: Juan Encarnacion is 4 for 12 (.333/.385/.833) lifetime against Marquis. 2 of those hits left the yard. Aaron Miles is 4 for 8 (.500/.500/.625). Albert Pujols is 4 for 9 (.444/.545/.444). Yadier Molina is 2 for 3 (.667/.667/1.667) with a homer.
-II- Rolen over: Scott Rolen is 5 for 21 (.238/.238/.524) lifetime against Marquis. 2 of those hits, however, went yard.
-III- Who's hot?: Juan Encarnacion is 11 for his last 21 (.524) with 7 RBIs.
-IV- Who's not: Aaron Miles is just 4 for his last 22 (.181) with 2 RBIs. He sat against the left-handed Lilly in game 2.
What to hope for:
- The recent Cubs' method of pounding out base hits without homers to score runs fits right in with Looper's way of GIVING UP runs; which is also by allowing many base hits and line drives without many homers.
What to watch for:
- Will DeRosa be back? Is Floyd nearing a day off? Will Kendall continue to ride the pine (It's worked for other Cub batters)?
- We are officially on a broom watch people. Report all sightings here and remain calm!
1- Soriano LF
2- Theriot SS
3- Lee 1B
4- Ramirez 3B
5- Floyd RF
6- Fontenot 2B
7- Jones CF
8- Kendall C
9- Marquis P